Colorado Eagles: Red-hot in Texas, Jean-Luc Foudy, and what comes next

  

After a rough start, the Colorado Eagles are now at 6–6–2–0. I thought it was time for a quick season recap and a discussion of some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the season so far.

Breakdown by series

California

The Eagles started the season with a five-game road trip, playing the San Diego Gulls and Ontario Reign. To say it was brutal would be an understatement. Both the Gulls and the Reign had the benefit of playing a couple of preseason games and at least three regular season games before coming into the series. The Eagles, on the other hand, had no preseason games, and had their opening series against the Stockton Heat canceled when the latter moved to Canada for the season. Colorado was also missing all of their top scorers from last year. I detailed the first two games of the series and who all was missing here, but after their only win of the trip against Ontario on Feb. 10, the Eagles fell hard in a 7–4 loss to the Gulls, ending the road trip at 1–3–1–0.

Tucson

The Eagles then returned home for three games against the Tucson Roadrunners, who, at that time, were leading the division. I talked a little about these games in my last article. The Eagles not only started to find their legs, they also got back several key players, including TJ Tynan and Jayson Megna. The Eagles won the first game 3–1. The second game of the series was a heartbreaker. The Eagles once again led 3–1 at the start of the third, but gave up two goals in the final two minutes of the game, and then lost in overtime. The Eagles redeemed themselves the next night. Although they only managed to score one goal, it was enough, as Trent Miner earned his first professional shutout. By the end of this series, the Roadrunners had fallen to second in the division behind the Henderson Golden Knights, who, unhappily, the Eagles were to face next.

Henderson

The first game against the newest team in the league felt closer than the score might indicate. At the start of the third period, the game was tied at 1–1. Henderson’s Gage Quinney scored 1:39 into the third to go up 2–1. The Eagles kept battling, and at 10:32, Megna scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at 2–2. It felt as if the Eagles had the momentum. At 17:01 of the period, the Silver Knights were called for delay of game, giving the Eagles their only power play of the frame. That late in the game, a power play goal would have all but sealed the deal. But rather than scoring, the Eagles gave up a shorthanded goal to Quinney for a 3–2 Henderson advantage. Now down by one with less than two minutes to play, the Eagles pulled goalie Trent Miner, and Quinney immediately capitalized, earning a hat trick for himself and a 4–2 win for his team.

Despite the loss and once again losing their top scorer (Megna) to the Colorado Avalanche, it felt like the Eagles had what it took to beat this team. But, in the rematch the very next night, the Eagles failed to live up to their potential, falling to the Silver Knights 4­­–1. They were scheduled to play Henderson again two nights later, but that game ended up being postponed due to COVID-19 issues for the Silver Knights.

After these two demoralizing losses, I contemplated writing about how the Eagles were right back where they were the last two seasons, playing well but unable to score. But then, something exciting happened.

Texas

The big news as the Eagles departed for a four-game series against Texas Stars was that Martin Kaut, who had been sidelined with an injury all season, was back in the lineup. In the first game, the Eagles gave up two goals in the first four minutes of the game. It was hard to be hopeful. But, they battled back, pulling within one early in the third period. Texas ended up scoring an empty-net goal in the final second of the game, but it would be the only victory they would see. The Eagles won the next three games, two of them in overtime, scoring a total of 14 goals. In fact, in the Texas series, rookie Jean-Luc Foudy scored two goals and two assists, Shane Bowers scored two goals, Mark Abt had four assists, Miikka Salomaki scored his first professional goal and two assists, Ian Scheid had one goal and three assists and team captain Tynan racked up nine points (three goals and six assists). They returned from Texas with six out of eight possible points.

Yeah. It was one hell of a series.

The Eagles are finally scoring and gaining some serious momentum. But, for better or worse, that momentum is about to be put to the test. Next up for the Eagles is a three-game series on the road against the division-leading Silver Knights.

What stands out

Jean-Luc Foudy

The 18-year-old rookie from the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires has been one of the most exciting stories of the season. Foudy is impossible to miss on the ice. He is a fast, excellent skater and he seems to always be involved in the play. He is great at zone entry and exit and excellent on the penalty kill. He currently has two goals and six assists. If and when the OHL starts playing again, Foudy will have to return to Canada, and Eagles fans will be sorry to lose him.

Martin Kaut

I have written more than once about Martin Kaut, most recently in my five bold predictions. I have always believed Kaut had the skill to do well in this league and beyond, but I was never so sure about his drive. But, since returning from his injury, Kaut seems determined to prove me wrong, and believe me, I would love nothing more than for him to do so! He has one goal (the game-winning goal in overtime, no less) and one assist in his last two games. But, more importantly, he suddenly seems to be truly driven. He has been paired in every game with center Sheldon Dries, with either Shane Bowers or Ryan Wagner playing right wing, and Kaut has made himself noticeable every shift. Whereas before, I often felt like he was sitting back, waiting for the puck to come to him, he is now being more aggressive, inserting himself into the play and making things happen. I love this change in him and hope it continues.

Trent Miner

Miner played six games for the Eagles before returning to the WHL, going 2–3–1–0. He had one shutout and ended with a 2.86 goals against average and a save percentage of .903. Those numbers may not look super impressive, but overall, Miner looked good. He was definitely not out of place in the AHL and given the current goalie mess in the Avalanche organization, it was a shame to lose him when we did, although unavoidable with the WHL returning to play.

Shane Bowers

I talked in my last article about how Bowers was underperforming. That may have been true before, but he made a good showing in the Texas series, scoring goals in back-to-back games. Bowers looked especially good when paired with Dries and Kaut. I cannot help but wonder if he and Kaut feed off each other a bit, or even feel themselves to be in competition and therefore keep striving to do better than the other. Whatever the reason, I like how these two perform when they are on the same line.

Special teams

On the bright side, the Eagles have had power play goals in their last two games. As a result, they have risen from dead last in the league to next to last, converting on five of 49 chances overall. They also had a shorthanded goal against Texas. On the not-so-bright side, they gave up two power play goals in this series after having been near perfect for the preceding six games. As a result, they dropped from fifth in the league to seventh in the league on the kill. Assistant Coach Ryan Tobler, who has been the special teams coach for several years, recently resigned his position with the team and was replaced by Avalanche development coach Brett Clark. It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference with the lackluster power play.

The taxi squad sucks

Let me preface this by saying, I get it. I understand that COVID-19 and quarantine protocols made the taxi squad necessary. I have no better alternative to offer for the season. But, as an AHL fan, I hate it. It is one thing to lose a player to a call-up, but to lose your top scorer so he can warm a taxi squad bench is beyond frustrating. I will be very happy when the taxi squad becomes a thing of the past.

Conclusion

The Eagles face the Silver Knights on March 24, 26 and 27 before finally returning home for their first games of the season against the Bakersfield Condors. These two teams are currently ranked first and second in the Pacific Division. It might sound overly dramatic, but it feels like these two series will decide whether the Eagles continue to build on their wins in Texas or whether they backslide into struggling for every point. These six games truly might be the most important games of the season for the Eagles.

adsense

Center Ice Forums Colorado Eagles: Red-hot in Texas, Jean-Luc Foudy, and what comes next

Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.